Don't Ruin the Mood of Your Picture with a Flash

If you watch Jersey Shore, you know all about Pauly D and his hair.

Well, last night my son did the Pauly D: hair, t-shirt and tattoos. Good fun.

As long as I had a good model on hand, I thought I'd take two shots to illustrate a photography philosophy: Don't let an on-camera flash ruin a shot.

The picture on the left is a natural light shot. The picture on the right is an on-camera flash shot.

In this situation (sorry The Situation), the flash obviously ruined the mood and feeling of the moment. What's more, the flash created a harsh, unnatural shadow.

Sure, I could have simulated the available light effect had I used a flash in a soft box. Or, I could have set the camera to manual and balanced the light from the flash to the available light – for a much more natural-looking picture. Here, I just wanted to illustrate a basic technique.

I also wanted to illustrate another point: don't be afraid to boost your ISO in low-light situations – even with a mid-range digital SLR. One of the more recent advancements in SLRs is that you get less noise at high ISO settings. I took these pictures with my Canon 7D with the ISO set to 1600.

If a picture does have some noise, don't worry. That noise may actually add to the mood of the scene.

Explore the light,

P.S. A flash is still my #1 recommended accessory. Master your flash, and you'll get natural looking flash pictures. Here's a link to an older post on making flash pictures look natural.